Local Government Bill [H.L.] - continued        House of Lords

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  PART III
  CONDUCT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES
 
Conduct of members
Principles governing conduct of members of relevant authorities.     34. - (1) The Secretary of State may by order specify the principles which are to govern the conduct of members of relevant authorities in England.
 
      (2) The National Assembly for Wales may by order specify the principles which are to govern the conduct of members of relevant authorities in Wales.
 
      (3) Before making an order under this section, the Secretary of State must consult-
 
 
    (a) such representatives of local government in England as he considers appropriate,
 
    (b) the Audit Commission,
 
    (c) the Commission for Local Administration in England, and
 
    (d) such other persons (if any) as he considers appropriate.
      (4) Before making an order under this section, the National Assembly for Wales must consult-
 
 
    (a) such representatives of local government in Wales as it considers appropriate,
 
    (b) the Audit Commission,
 
    (c) the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, and
 
    (d) such other persons (if any) as it considers appropriate.
      (5) In this Part "relevant authority" means-
 
 
    (a) a county council,
 
    (b) a county borough council,
 
    (c) a district council,
 
    (d) a London borough council,
 
    (e) a parish council,
 
    (f) a community council,
 
    (g) the Greater London Authority,
 
    (h) the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority or police authority,
 
    (i) the Council of the Isles of Scilly,
 
    (j) a fire authority constituted by a combination scheme under the Fire Services Act 1947,
 
    (k) a police authority established under section 3 of the Police Act 1996,
 
    (l) a joint authority established by Part IV of the Local Government Act 1985,
 
    (m) the Broads Authority, or
 
    (n) a National Park authority established under section 63 of the Environment Act 1995.
Model code of conduct.     35. - (1) The Secretary of State may by order issue a model code as regards the conduct which is expected of members of relevant authorities in England (referred to in this Part as a model code).
 
      (2) The National Assembly for Wales may by order issue a model code as regards the conduct which is expected of members of relevant authorities in Wales (also referred to in this Part as a model code).
 
      (3) A model code-
 
 
    (a) must be consistent with the principles for the time being specified in an order under section 34(1) or 34(2) (as the case may be),
 
    (b) may include provisions which are mandatory, and
 
    (c) may include provisions which are optional.
      (4) Before making an order under this section, the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales must carry out such consultation as is required, by virtue of section 34(3) or 34(4) (as the case may be), before an order is made under section 34.
 
      (5) For the purpose of facilitating the making of an order under this section-
 
 
    (a) the Secretary of State may invite such representative of local government in England as he considers appropriate to draw up, and send to him, a proposed model code, and
 
    (b) the National Assembly for Wales may invite the Partnership Council to draw up, and send to it, a proposed model code.
      (6) An invitation under subsection (5)-
 
 
    (a) must be made in writing,
 
    (b) must specify the period within which the code is to be drawn up and sent to the Secretary of State or National Assembly for Wales (as the case may be),
 
    (c) may require different codes, or different provisions of a code, to be drawn up for different authorities or descriptions of authority, and
 
    (d) may require the representative concerned to consult such persons as may be specified in the invitation.
      (7) In this section "the Partnership Council" has the meaning given by section 113(2) of the Government of Wales Act 1998.
 
Duty of relevant authorities to adopt codes of conduct.     36. - (1) It is the duty of each relevant authority, before the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which an order under section 35 which applies to them is made, to pass a resolution-
 
 
    (a) adopting a code as regards the conduct which is expected of members of the authority (referred to in this Part as a code of conduct), or
 
    (b) revising their existing code of conduct under this section.
      (2) A relevant authority may by resolution revise their existing code of conduct under this section.
 
      (3) A code of conduct or revised code of conduct-
 
 
    (a) must incorporate any mandatory provisions of the model code which for the time being applies to that authority,
 
    (b) may incorporate any optional provisions of that model code, and
 
    (c) may include other provisions which are consistent with that model code.
      (4) Where a relevant authority fail to comply with the duty in subsection (1) before the end of the period mentioned in that subsection-
 
 
    (a) they must comply with that duty as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period, and
 
    (b) any mandatory provisions of the model code which for the time being applies to the authority are to apply in relation to the members of the authority for so long as the authority fail to comply with that duty.
      (5) As soon as reasonably practicable after adopting or revising a code of conduct under this section, a relevant authority must-
 
 
    (a) ensure that copies of the code or revised code are available at their principal office for inspection by members of the public at all reasonable hours,
 
    (b) publish in one or more newspapers circulating in their area a notice which-
 
      (i) states that they have adopted or revised a code of conduct, and
 
      (ii) states that copies of the code or revised code are available at their principal office for inspection by members of the public at such times as may be specified in the notice, and
 
    (c) send a copy of the code or revised code-
 
      (i) in the case of a relevant authority in England, to the Standards Board for England, or
 
      (ii) in the case of a relevant authority in Wales, to the Standards Board for Wales.
      (6) A relevant authority may publicise their adoption or revision of a code of conduct under this section in any other manner that they consider appropriate.
 
      (7) The duty in subsection (1)(b) does not apply to a relevant authority if their existing code of conduct under this section is consistent with the model code which for the time being applies to them.
 
      (8) A relevant authority's function with respect to the passing of a resolution under this section may be discharged only by the authority.
 
      (9) Any reference in this section to the revision of a code of conduct includes a reference to the adoption of a different code of conduct in its place.
 
Duty to comply with code of conduct.     37. - (1) The form of declaration of acceptance of office which may be prescribed by an order under section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972 may include an undertaking by the declarant that in performing his functions he will observe the authority's existing code of conduct under section 36.
 
      (2) Where a relevant authority to which section 83 of that Act applies adopts or revises a code of conduct under section 36 after a member of the authority has made a declaration of acceptance of office under section 83-
 
 
    (a) he must, before the end of the period of two months beginning with the date on which the code of conduct is adopted or revised, give to the authority a written undertaking that in performing his functions he will observe the code or revised code, and
 
    (b) if he fails to do so, his office is to become vacant at the end of that period.
      (3) Where a relevant authority to which section 83 of that Act does not apply adopts or revises a code of conduct under section 36-
 
 
    (a) each member of the authority must, before the end of the period of two months beginning with the date on which the code of conduct is adopted or revised, give to the authority a written undertaking that in performing his functions he will observe the code or revised code, and
 
    (b) if he fails to do so, his office is to become vacant at the end of that period.
      (4) In a case where section 36(4) applies-
 
 
    (a) any reference in this section to observing a code of conduct is a reference to observing the mandatory provisions mentioned in section 36(4)(b),
 
    (b) any reference in this section to a relevant authority adopting or revising a code of conduct under section 36 is a reference to the application of those mandatory provisions in relation to the members of a relevant authority, and
 
    (c) any reference in this section to the date on which a code of conduct is adopted or revised is a reference to the date on which those mandatory provisions first apply in relation to the members of a relevant authority.
      (5) Section 36(9) applies for the purposes of this section as it applies for the purpose of that section.
 
 
Standards committees
Standards committees.     38. - (1) Every local authority must establish a committee (referred to in this Part as a standards committee) which is to have the functions conferred on it by or under section 39.
 
      (2) The number of members of a standards committee of a local authority and their terms of office are to be fixed by the authority (subject to subsection (5)(a)).
 
      (3) A standards committee of a local authority must include-
 
 
    (a) at least two members of the authority, and
 
    (b) at least one person who is not a member, or an officer, of that or any other local authority.
      (4) A standards committee of a local authority which is operating executive arrangements-
 
 
    (a) may not include the elected mayor or executive leader, and
 
    (b) may not be chaired by a member of the executive.
      (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision-
 
 
    (a) as to the size and composition of standards committees of local authorities in England,
 
    (b) as to the appointment to such committees of persons falling within subsection (3)(b), and
 
    (c) as to the proceedings and validity of proceedings of such committees.
      (6) The National Assembly for Wales may by regulations make provision-
 
 
    (a) as to the size and composition of standards committees of local authorities in Wales,
 
    (b) as to the appointment to such committees of persons falling within subsection (3)(b), and
 
    (c) as to the proceedings and validity of proceedings of standards committees of local authorities in Wales.
      (7) A member of a standards committee of a local authority who is not a member of the authority is entitled to vote at meetings of the committee.
 
      (8) A local authority must send a statement which sets out the terms of reference, or any revised terms of reference, of their standards committee-
 
 
    (a) to the Standards Board for England (where the authority is in England), or
 
    (b) to the Standards Board for Wales (where the authority is in Wales).
      (9) In this Part "local authority" means-
 
 
    (a) a county council,
 
    (b) a county borough council,
 
    (c) a district council,
 
    (d) a London borough council,
 
    (e) the Greater London Authority,
 
    (f) the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority or police authority, or
 
    (g) the Council of the Isles of Scilly.
      (10) A standards committee is not to be regarded as a body to which section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (duty to allocate seats to political groups) applies.
 
Functions of standards committees.     39. - (1) The general functions of a standards committee of a local authority are-
 
 
    (a) promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by the members of the authority, and
 
    (b) assisting members of the authority to observe the authority's code of conduct.
      (2) Without prejudice to its general functions, a standards committee of a local authority has the following specific functions-
 
 
    (a) advising the authority on the adoption or revision of a code of conduct,
 
    (b) monitoring the operation of the authority's code of conduct,
 
    (c) advising, training or arranging to train members of the authority on matters relating to the authority's code of conduct, and
 
    (d) considering matters referred to it under section 47(2)(b).
      (3) A local authority may arrange for their standards committee to exercise such other functions as the authority consider appropriate.
 
      (4) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision with respect to the exercise of functions by standards committees of local authorities in England.
 
      (5) The National Assembly for Wales may by regulations make provision with respect to the exercise of functions by standards committees of local authorities in Wales.
 
      (6) The Standards Board for England may issue guidance with respect to the exercise of functions by standards committees of local authorities in England.
 
      (7) The Standards Board for Wales may issue guidance with respect to the exercise of functions by standards committees of local authorities in Wales.
 
      (8) Section 36(9) applies for the purposes of this section as it applies for the purpose of that section.
 
 
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Prepared 26 November 1999